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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 15 Number 235 | Friday, 2 October 2015


ICCM-4 Highlights

Thursday, 1 October 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF) FR (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from Geneva, Switzerland at: http://enb.iisd.org/chemical/SAICM/iccm4/

The penultimate day of the Fourth Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) convened on Thursday, 1 October, in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the morning, plenary briefly reconvened to hear reports from the contact groups before suspending until the afternoon’s high-level segment (HLS). The contact groups on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, and the activities of the Secretariat and budget met immediately after. The EPIs contact group met from midday, into the afternoon. A “Friends of the Co-Chairs” group on the OOG met throughout the day.

In the afternoon, the ICCM4 HLS began where participants heard two keynote speeches. Three parallel panel dialogues took place: Multisectoral Collaboration for More Efficient Chemicals Management; Multistakeholder Collaboration for Sustainable Development; and the SAICM Model in Action. The contact groups on EPIs and the OOG resumed following the suspension of the HLS.

Three special events took place through the day.

HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT - COMMITMENT TO A CHEMICAL SAFE FUTURE FOR HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

Tim Kasten, UNEP DTIE, speaking on behalf of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, encouraged all stakeholders to strengthen their efforts on sound chemicals management.

Victoria Tauli Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, highlighted that environmental pollution further exacerbates indigenous peoples’ marginalization. She indicated that chemical pollution affects all people, stressing that this makes cooperation among stakeholders necessary. Noting SAICM’s collaborative framework, the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle, Corpuz recognized the lack of financing and insufficient information regarding chemical risks, and urged for more responsible action from the chemical industry.

Michel Giannuzzi, CEO, Tarkett, underscored that environmental challenges provide opportunities for business leaders to leverage innovations for sustainable development. He presented his company’s project using the “cradle-to-cradle” principle for sustainable indoor products, noting the project’s benefits for reducing chemical risks and energy consumption. He encouraged industry leaders to be more proactive and creative on sustainable development, rather than waiting for state regulation.

MULTISECTORAL COLLABORATION FOR MORE EFFICIENT CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT: This panel was moderated by Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, BRS Secretariat. Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Jamaica, said Jamaica took a multistakeholder, multisectoral approach to chemicals management. He stressed “the 3 C’s—collaboration, coordination and continuity” as key. Responding to the audience, he explained the primary mechanism for involving industry in financing chemicals management was a 2% assessment imposed on pesticide imports, the revenue from which is used to fund the Pesticide Control Authority’s operations.

Howard Minigh, President and CEO, CropLife International (CLI), discussed how CLI has trained smallholder farmers in safe pesticide use, sponsored pesticide container recycling programmes, cooperated in removing obsolete pesticide stockpiles, and conducted integrated pest management partnerships.

Leonardo Trasande, New York University School of Medicine, discussed how academics have helped to illustrate the costs of inaction in areas such as reducing lead in paint or addressing EDCs. He suggested placing a 0.1% tax on the global chemical industry’s annual turnover, which would generate billons for addressing sound chemicals management.

Génon Jensen, Executive Director, Health and Environment Alliance, said her organization “brings science to the public and policy makers,” works with the health sector to provide policy input, spotlights poor or ineffective action, and “sounds the alert” on environmental health threats. She endorsed the idea of a 0.1% “cost recovery fee” on global chemicals turnover.

Leticia Carvalho, Ministry of Environment, Brazil, explained the National Environment Council’s multistakeholder collaboration model involving federal, state and municipal governments, NGOs, industry and academics. She said that this model is used for the National Council on Chemical Safety, which handles nearly every SAICM issue. Responding to questions, she explained that the Brazilian national budget now contains clear line items on chemicals and waste management, along with specific indicators and goals.

The ensuing debate addressed, inter alia: additional resources within health ministries and agencies to address public health impacts from chemical exposures; voluntary collaboration with industry; whether and how industry should support risk assessments; the need for innovative approaches by all stakeholders; product stewardship; and the burden of disease attributable to chemicals in the environment.

MULTISTAKEHOLDER COLLABORATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: This panel was moderated by Sally Fegan-Wyles, former Executive Director, UNITAR.

Gunvor Ericson, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Sweden, said that sound management of chemicals is an essential contribution to all three dimensions of sustainable development and that SAICM is an important forum for SDGs’ implementation.

Mahama Ayariga, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana, highlighted that committing to environmental standards involves some conflict with the SDGs due to the need of developing economies to grow by, for instance, agriculture that uses chemicals. He noted that it is necessary to have institutional frameworks that include all stakeholders and have comprehensive policies, plans and legal frameworks to bring about success in environmental compliance.

Daniel Calleja, Director-General for Environment, European Commission, reiterated support for SAICM, saying that the process should continue beyond 2020. He highlighted that although the EU’s regulatory system for environment and chemicals management had been very challenging to establish and implement, he deemed it a success. He also announced that the EU will soon launch an initiative to promote the concept of the circular economy.

Richard Lesiyampe, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Kenya, said that in the case of many developing countries there are environmental authorities that have laws and regulations in place but “no capacity to bite” because of a lack of capacity and resources. He also said that SAICM has been a good model that could be replicated in developing countries to increase multistakeholder and multisectoral collaboration and communication.

Hubert Mandery, Director General, European Chemical Industry Council, stated that: the industry is committed to sound chemicals management; business as usual is not an option; and quantum leaps in innovation and societal acceptance of technology is necessary to achieve sustainable development.

In the ensuing discussion the participants addressed, inter alia: striking a balance between short- and long-term priorities on environmental protection and economic growth; collaboration and technology transfer between developed and developing countries; and risk and disaster management related to chemicals.

THE SAICM MODEL IN ACTION: The panel was moderated by Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, WHO.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, reminded participants that chemicals are now a part of our lives, a legacy from 100 years of use, and central to the SDGs. He underscored that SAICM’s multistakeholder approach has allowed moving the conversation on chemicals away from being confrontational. He stressed the importance of responsible markets and informed consumers for safe chemicals management.

Barbara Hendricks, Minister of Environment, Germany, emphasized SAICM as the only international framework where all issues related to chemicals are addressed, noting its voluntary and multistakeholder nature as an advantage for addressing the complexity of sound chemicals management. She also stated that an international platform for all overarching issues of chemical safety is indispensable after 2020.

Christine Dawson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, US Department of State, highlighted the non-binding nature of SAICM as a success factor to ensure inclusiveness of issues and stakeholders, and underscored the Lead Paint Alliance as an example of success.

Fleetwood Grobler, Executive Vice President, Sasol, said the industry needs to play a lead role in SAICM, and described in Africa, inter alia: building emergency response capacity; strengthening relations with distributors; and providing relevant product information. He underscored that success in promoting safe chemicals depends on all relevant stakeholders.

Susan Wilburn, Sustainability Director, Health Care Without Harm, described successful partnerships with WHO, UNIDO and GEF in raising the awareness of health care professionals on chemical safety, in particular waste segregation to reduce chemicals contamination.

Tadesse Amera, IPEN/Pesticide Action Nexus Association, Ethiopia, reported on an example of scaling-up an e-waste initiative, and on introducing integrated pest management to reduce the risks from pesticide usage in Ethiopia.

On factors for sustainable partnerships within SAICM, panelists highlighted: its voluntary nature; the health sector strategy; inclusiveness; the ability to think globally and act locally; networking; and mainstreaming of sustainable product stewardship. After a short round of questions and answers, the panel closed with concluding messages underscoring, inter alia: the need to keep the bottom-up and top-down approaches to ensure local issues are addressed and institutional solutions found; the sustainable users’ stewardship; and the need to be “ahead of the curve” in safe chemicals management.

CONTACT GROUPS

ACTIVITIES OF THE SECRETARIAT AND BUDGET: The budget group convened for the first time this morning, and continued their work throughout the day, concluding in the early afternoon having agreed on a resolution on the staffing and budget of the secretariat for 2016-2020.

OOG: In the morning report, Co-Chair Leticia Carvalho (Brazil) said that progress had been made but three issues remained pertaining to finance. She said a “Friends of the Co-Chairs” group had been established to resolve these issues. The Friends of the Co-Chairs group met throughout the day, with the contact group meeting in the evening to finalize its work.

EPIs AND OTHER ISSUES OF CONCERN: Reporting back, Co-Chair Silvija Kalnis (Latvia) noted progress in the contact group’s work with only a few paragraphs remaining on HHPs, lead in paint, chemicals in products, and nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials. She also reported that there was agreed text on hazardous substances within the life-cycle of electrical and electronic products. She noted discussions on EDCs had yet to commence. She also stated that a “Friends of the Co-Chairs” group had been established to resolve the text in the preamble of the omnibus resolution.

The contact group met at midday and into the evening to complete its work.

SOUND MANAGEMENT OF CHEMICALS AND WASTE BEYOND 2020: In the morning report back, Co-Chair David Kapindula (Zambia) stated that the “Friends of the Co-Chairs” group had been able to agree on disputed text. When morning plenary was suspended, the contact group immediately reconvened, where they agreed to forward the draft resolution to the Plenary for adoption.

IN THE CORRIDORS

After a late night of contact groups meetings, ICCM4 delegates convened on Thursday in a brief plenary where the President urged all groups to finish their work by 10:00 pm “or we won’t be able to include it in the conference report.” Progress was made, with the draft resolutions on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 and budget ready to be forwarded for adoption in Friday’s plenary. And while the participation of eminent speakers in the HLS during the afternoon injected some much needed energy and inspiration into ICCM4, several contentious issues remained unresolved. Participants in the EPIs and OOG contact groups were urged to “learn to live with many things” rather than hold out for a perfect resolution if the fast-approaching deadline was to be heeded.

ENB SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis of ICCM4 will be available on Monday, 5 October 2015, online at: http://enb.iisd.org/chemical/SAICM/iccm4/